Monthly Archives: February 2009

Community Reaction to Adobe Security threat

SecurityFix describes the Adobe vs cybersec community discourse concerning a flaw that was discovered last year.  The organizations noted in this report represent a volunteer group (shadowserver), a proprietary intrusion prevention company (Sourcefire).  No government organizations mentioned regarding an event that touches many users across all organizational sectors.

There is a blog (VRT) that reports on findings from the Sourcefire research team.

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Filed under cybersec organizations, cybersecurity, Uncategorized

Another hub in the cybersecurity Network

Former Washington Gov. Gary Locke is slated to be appointed Secretary of Commerce:

Experience in technology policy will also be important for the next commerce secretary, Cantwell said, since he will have to appoint the next director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, oversee the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and provide leadership on issues like cybersecurity.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) does important stuff — like set standards and prescriptions such as the new guide on maintaining data security while teleworking.  This riveting 46 page how to is written in “broad language in order to be helpful to any group that engages in telework. (see NIST release)”

In the executive summary you will find the important steps any individual should take before connecting at home or at the local cafe.

  • Before implementing any of the recommendations or suggestions in the guide, users should back up all data and verify the validity of the backups. Readers with little or no experience configuring personal computers, consumer devices, or home networks should seek assistance in applying the recommendations. Every telework device’s existing configuration and environment is unique, so changing its configuration could have unforeseen consequences, including loss of data and loss of device or application functionality.
  • Before teleworking, users should understand not only their organization’s policies and requirements, but also appropriate ways of protecting the organization’s information that they may access.
  • Teleworkers should ensure that all the devices on their wired and wireless home networks are properly secured, as well as the home networks themselves.
  • Teleworkers who use their own desktop or laptop PCs for telework should secure their operating systems and primary applications.
  • Teleworkers who use their own consumer devices for telework should secure them based on the security recommendations from the devices’ manufacturers.
  • Teleworkers should consider the security state of a third-party device before using it for telework.

Each of the steps are reasonable — but who will invest the resources required to make those steps effective?

Standards are being published and have been published for some time.  Yet, breaches continue to occur.  So, is the current status of policy and policy outcomes optimal or do we need to create another paradigm for cybersecurity?

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Filed under broadband, cybersecurity, electronic medical records, federal cyber security, Policy

Security, Privacy, Interoperability

These terms are strongly related, inter-related to be more precise, and have a significant effect upon the level of trust and confidence that any information system engenders with its users.  Separately dealing with each attributed of a network, as though the relationship between each term were independent, is not good design.  Yet, read the following taken from Cnet article on problems building a new healthcare system:

Lawmakers and health care representatives also asked the HISPC to clarify why privacy issues were such a critical part of maintaining electronic health records.

“It seems to me there is a big concern about the digitization of data as separate, but if we have the right security measures, that data is no different from the data physically sitting in my office,” said Herb Conway, a physician who sits on the New Jersey state legislature. “Are we going to be designing laws that interfere with our ability to have interoperability?

“While we appreciate that different states have different rules, we’re trying to find a way to streamline the process so patient treatment is not affected by delays in sharing information,” he said.

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Filed under cyber policy, cybersecurity, electronic medical records

Darwinian View to Cybersecurity

Interesting….

Take A Darwinian Approach To A Dangerous World: Ecologist Preaches ‘Natural’ Security For Homeland Defense

ScienceDaily (2009-02-23) — Global society is undergoing rapid political and socioeconomic changes, to which our security measures must adapt. Fortunately, we’re surrounded by millions of examples of security measures from nature that do just that.

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Cost of Information

Chronicle reports on recent court decision stating, effectively, that a public employee can’t exercise first amendment speech rights if the credibility of the speaker is based upon the employee’s position (yeah, take that whistleblowers!).

First the context:

As an associate professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, Mr. Renken says he felt obliged to speak out about his belief that administrators there were mishandling a National Science Foundation grant to him and several colleagues. When the university subsequently reduced his pay and returned the grant, he sued, alleging illegal retaliation.

Because he is a tenured faculty member, and he viewed the public university’s use of public funds as a matter of clear public interest, Mr. Renken figured his complaints qualified as legally protected free speech.

Now the punch line:

“In order for a public employee to raise a successful First Amendment claim, he must have spoken in his capacity as a private citizen and not as an employee,” the court said.

The professor, the AAUP, and others see this as a breach in the wall of protection they claim is provided by Academic Freedom.  However, referring to the 1915 Declaration of Principles, I do not see a case to be made here, as the utterances were within the confines of the professor’s job. Continue reading

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Filed under Government

Regulatory Transparency – will it change your behavior?

A relatively new policy tool, mandatory disclosure of infromation with a regulatory intent, is being proposed as a means to deal with the net neutrality issue.  In an article announcing Obama’s choice of Leibowitz as FTC chair,  Cnet reports:

On the issue of Net neutrality, Leibowitz stood out from his colleagues in June 2007 when the FTC released a report stating no new laws were necessary. Leibowitz issued an opinion saying existing antitrust laws may not have been “adequate to the task” of Internet broadband regulation.

“Will carriers block, slow or interfere with applications?” Leibowitz asked at a public hearing held by the FTC in November 2006. “If so, will consumers be told about this before they sign up? In my mind, failure to disclose these procedures would be…unfair and deceptive.”

Researchers believe that in order for such transparency to be effective a) the user behavior must be changeable via better information and b) the disclosers’ behavior (i.e. internet access providers AT&T and Comcast) must be changeable in reaction to the users’ choices.  I question whether the users will have a choice even if they possess perfect information to act upon (not even gonna get into the details of whether the information disclosed is comprhensible by the average user)>

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Filed under broadband, Policy, policy tools

CyberSecurity Updates

Univ Florida – breach – 97,000 id’s

Norton unveils product to help parents manage children’s access to the web.  Has the market done what Government could not?

Citing a Rochester Institute of Technology study that found a huge gap between the percentage of parents versus children who report no online supervision, Symantec says that Online Family is intended to bridge that gap by “fostering communication” between parents and their kids. According to the RIT study, only 7 percent of parents think their children have no online supervision, while 66 percent of kids think they go unsupervised.

Perhaps this tool will alleviate this columnist’s fears (tip to Parry Aftab ) regarding making wireless available throught the house:

It’s not a matter of trust. It’s about trying to be a responsible online parent by keeping cyber-dangers away from vulnerable kids.

However, no matter how weak the signal, Mayhem Manor will have to keep logs for two years of all who access the internet should these proposals become law— primarily for law enforcement to help protect children from predators, the authors say:

“While the Internet has generated many positive changes in the way we communicate and do business, its limitless nature offers anonymity that has opened the door to criminals looking to harm innocent children,” U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, said at a press conference on Thursday. “Keeping our children safe requires cooperation on the local, state, federal, and family level.”

However, it seems that the Recording Industry, Motion Picture Industry, and publishers are salivating over this prospect to provide them names, instead of John Does, to occupy the banners of their lawsuits:

So would individuals and companies bringing civil lawsuits, including the Recording Industry Association of America and other large copyright holders, many of which have lobbied for similar data retention laws in other countries.

When filing lawsuits over suspected online piracy, lawyers for the RIAA and other plaintiffs typically have an Internet Protocol address they hope to link with someone’s identity. But if the network operator doesn’t retain the logs, the lawsuit can be derailed.

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Filed under cybersecurity, policy tools, public failure, Uncategorized